Cherry Blossoms Explode, The Sun Shines, A Glorious Day in Seattle!
Today I took two of my English Students (Italians) out for lunch and then we went to the University of Washington to witness the annual cherry blossom explosion. Fortunately, we have had several days of absolutely spectacular weather here in the Seattle area. Today it was sunny and almost 70 degrees! You can tell that there was a huge crowd at the university “quad” to enjoy the blossoms. There isn’t a more beautiful place than Seattle when the weather is like this. I’ve lived here since 1986 and I’m still amazed at how wonderful it can be here.
Here’s My Capzles Presentation of Our Subscription Farm Produce
For the last 3 years, I’ve been using Capzles to put together a nice presentation that exhibits all of the wonderful produce we have received from our farm subscription with Growing Washington. Please take a look through all the pictures. We ate some good food this summer. It’s interesting to note that each season brings all sorts of challenges to the farmers. This year, for example, tomatoes weren’t the best vegetables to order. The good thing about Growing Washington is that we could choose from a huge number of products each week. If we felt that the weather had been unkind to tomatoes or the delicate lettuces, we chose something else. No problem. I hope you enjoy the Capzles presentation. Also, make sure you turn the music on!!!
The Last “Official Summer Season” Box of Organic Food
This is the final week of our “summer food box” share of organic food from Growing Washington. This is the third year running that we have been involved in community supported agriculture and we continue to be very satisfied customers. This year we ordered a 20 week share in this wonderful subscription farm plus we added the five week Autumn delivery. The Small Vegetable Box provides a choice of eight vegetables per week from what is coming out of the fields. The Small Veggie Box costs $24 per week or $432 for the eighteen-week season. The summer season this year ran from June 13 to today. We will now continue to receive organic food from our extended share for the next 5 weeks.
Organic Food Rocks……..Week 20
I was really excited to receive our vegetables this week. I ordered a variety of potatoes and I also ordered escarole which I’ll describe more below. You know, it’s hard to describe the various earthy smells that come off these organic vegetables when we put them on the counter. You don’t get the same whiff of earthiness when you buy food at the grocery store. Not even the organic food at the grocery store is the same. Here’s the list of this week’s vegetables:
- Gala Apples – The first Gala apple tree was one of many seedlings resulting from a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Kidd’s Orange Red planted in New Zealand in the 1930s. Gala apples are small and are usually red with a portion being greenish or yellow-green, vertically striped. Gala apples are fairly resistant to bruising and are sweet, grainy, with a mild flavor and a thinner skin than most apples. Quality indices include firmness, crispness, and sweetness. (citation from Wikipedia)
- Escarole – Escarole is a variety of endive whose leaves are broader, paler and less bitter than other members of the endive family. In taste — but not color — it is almost indistinguishable from radicchio. Like radicchio, kale and chard, escarole is a hearty green that thrives late into the growing season. The heart of an escarole head is less bitter because the leaves haven’t gotten as much sunlight. (from Cookthink.com)
- Swiss Chard – Swiss Chard is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. I simply saute the chopped-up leaves and stems with olive oil, garlic, hot pepper flakes and splash the saute with wine or stock as the leaves cook. Here’s a great site that explains why chard is so nutritious: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=16
- Braising Mix – I prepare this mix of various leafy greens in much the same way I prepare chard.
- Spicy Greens Mix – This mix of lettuces, arugula and spicy mustard greens is a delicious combination of flavors that goes well with a lot of dishes. I particularly like to toss these greens with a sweet vinaigrette, put it on the serving plate and then place a piece of grilled or sauteed piece of salmon on top of it…..yummy!
- Russet Potatoes – We received 2 large russets and a slew of smaller potatoes…….
- Yukon Gold Potatoes – Oh my, there’s nothing better than making mashed potatoes with Yukon Golds. Rich, creamy and delicious they are truly one of the best tasting potatoes in the world.
- Carrots – The carrots we receive from Growing Washington are so sweet and tender that I simply rinse them off and start eating. I don’t even bother peeling them….
- Beets – One advantage of receiving beets from an organic farm is that they always come with the tops (greens). In actuality, beets are two vegetables in one: the beet root and the beet greens. I cook both. I generally roast the beet roots in the oven for an hour (or more). I saute the greens in much the same way I prepare all the other greens. Beet greens are delicious!
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Gala Apples, Chard, Carrots, Spicy Greens
Some Classic Autumnal Organic Food Arrived Today
We are nearing the end of real summer vegetables (local organic food in particular). This week the only “summery” vegetables I ordered were the mixed hot peppers because they will soon be unavailable and I wanted to spice up some dishes this week! In fact, I used one of the small Serranos this evening by sauteing it with garlic and mixed greens. Oh that was tasty! This week we received some real classics for this time of year:
- Shelling Beans – I intend using these shelling beans for a nice soup later this week. I just made a large batch of chicken stock which I’ll use for the soup base
- Bush Delicata winter squash – These are delicious little winter squash that I like to cut in half, roast and serve in their skins like baked potatoes. Some butter and a pinch of salt……..heaven.
- Banana Fingerling potatoes – These are incredibly versatile potatoes. I’ve baked them, roasted them, mashed them and they cook very quickly in the microwave. When I roast fingerlings, I’ll cut them length-wise, toss them in olive oil and a couple of whole garlic cloves and sprinkle them with kosher salt.
- German Butterball potatoes – These are uber-delicious as mashed potatoes.
- Red Cabbage – Cabbage is of the most economical of the organic foods we receive from our subscription farm. Head cabbage (green, savoy, red) can be stuffed, sauteed or made into a delicious soup (as I recently did with the large Savoy cabbage we received from the farm.) Oh, I forgot that I like home made coleslaw!
- Fennel – I’m often asked what to do with fennel bulbs (often misnamed in grocery stores as “anise”….a totally different plant). In the summer I’ll quickly blanch the bulb, cut it in half, toss it with a high-flash-point oil and then grill it. I like to julienne a bulb along with a leek and a carrot then saute them together in butter and then garnish a piece of white fish with mixture. Raw fennel goes great in salads. It adds a wonderfully gentle liquorice flavor to all sorts of dishes.
- Fuji Apples – I love Fujis because the taste like apples dipped in caramel without the calories! Notice how beautiful these Fujis are!
- Purple Winterbor Kale – As always, I’m going to add this deep-purple kale to all sorts of dishes this week. I have leftover cabbage soup that I’ll add it to. I’ll do a nice saute with garlic and another hot pepper and probably add a few leaves to the bean soup I’m going to make.
A Note about Storing Organic Food (especially produce)
I wanted to mention something about the shelf life of the organic food we receive from Growing Washington. Believe it or not, we don’t always get to all the vegetables we receive in the course of a week. We make a point of eating all the highly perishable fruits and vegetables first. What’s amazing is how long some of these foods will last if kept in the refrigerator or in our pantry. Many of the hearty greens such as kale, mixed braising greens and the root vegetables will last a long time in the refrigerator. Cabbages will literally last for weeks.
Autumn Brings Us a Colorful Crop of Organic Food
Ah, this is what Autumn is supposed to look like! This week I ordered a good variety of produce from Growing Washington. Now that we’re heading into cooler nights and the sky is grey a lot of the time it was high time to get a deliciously orange winter squash along with various greens, beets and apples. Here’s a breakdown of the organic food this week:
- Cha Cha Winter Squash – I intend to roast this squash by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds and placing a liberal amount of butter in the cavity! Yummy
- German Butterball Potatoes – All of the potatoes we’ve received from Growing Washington this year have been incredibly delicious!
- Red Ace Beets – Another vegetable that I like to roast. This method intensifies the flavor of the beets. This batch has nice greens, so I’ll keep them and saute them sometime this week
- Broccoli – I sauteed last week’s broccoli with garlic, olive oil and white wine after which I tossed the mixture with linguini pasta That was good!
- Gala Apples – Sweet, crisp, delicious
- Swiss Chard – I see a nice soup with Swiss Chard later this week
- Big Beef Tomatoes – This will probably be the last tomatoes I order this season. Summer is definitely over.
- Packham Pears – This European pear is one of the pears from which many other varieties come.
- Braising Mix – As always, I love to have a nice bunch of greens that I’ll saute sometime during the week.
Not Even the Rain Can Dampen the Arrival of the Organic Food
Now that Autumn is in full-swing here in the Northwest we are going to start to see a lot of great organic food. We enjoy a relatively cool climate compared to much of the country and throughout the summer we will find vegetables that might not do so well in much of the country. We almost always have a huge variety of lettuces and greens that melt in the summer heat in other parts of the U.S.. Brassicas (members of the mustard family) such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage do quite well in our mild summers….but now they are really going to thrive (as you can see from the photo above!). We are also going to see my favourite allium, leeks which require a long growing season but are the king of the onion family.
This week I tried to select some interesting crops from our subscription farm, Growing Washington. I can’t wait to do cook up something interesting with the oyster mushrroms. When I pulled the Savoy cabbage from the box I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of interesting things I can make with it…….it’s a monster!!!! So, here’s what we received this week:
- Rhubarb – I usually bake a wonderful crisp with the rhubarb we receive from the farm….this week will be no exception
- Savoy Cabbage – I’m thinking stuffed cabbage with those huge leaves…stuffed with what????? Hmmm
- Leeks – I can’t tell you how much I LOVE leeks
- Big Beef tomatoes
- Oyster mushrooms
- Asian pears – They’re shaped like apples but have the texture and taste of pears
- Rustic Salad mix
- Braising mix
Did I say I absolutely LOVE leeks!
These Oyster Mushrooms make my mouth water.
This week I’ll try to document some of the cooking I’m doing with these wonderful organic vegetables.
Autumn Has Been Beautiful – And the organic food just keeps coming!
Last week we received some great produce in our organic food box:
- Sweet Corn
- Gold new potatoes
- Cylindrical Beets
- Washington Cherry Tomatoes
- Green Romaine Lettuce
- Braising Mix
We have been experiencing an absolutely incredible Fall here in the Northwest. The days have been cool and crisp and the sun has been shining every day bringing the afternoon temperatures into the low 70′s. The sunsets have been spectacular. I was looking at the 10 day forecast and I’m afraid that by the end of this week we see the rain and grey skies return……..as they always do. In the meantime I intend to enjoy the weather and the delicious, organic vegetables we received from Growing Washington:
- Dragon tongue beans
- Sweet corn
- Mixed potatoes
- Asian cucumber
- Honeycrisp apples
- Green Winterbor Kale
- Big Beef tomatoes
- Red Romaine lettuce
I TOOK A “BLOGGING” VACATION
At the end of August, Virginia and I took a wonderful, relaxing vacation to California to visit family, drink lots of wine and bask in the 90+ degree weather. We spent one day in San Francisco and after marching through the city for most of the day, we splurged and hired a bicycle cab to take us back to the BART station. It was a perfect ending to a great day in SF. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we took AMTRAK’s Coast Starlight Line which turned out to be one of the most relaxing, enjoyable trips we’ve taken in years.
Now, Let’s Talk Vegetables
Yes, I’ve been remiss in my weekly food box reports. I’ll admit that I was more interested in enjoying the great weather and riding our tandem than blogging in August. In any case, here are the main pics for the last 5 weeks of our organic food boxes:
Green beans, zucchini, peaches, sweet corn, heirloom tomato, broccoli, braising mix, yellow fin potatoes and blueberries
WEEK 11 & 12
Wheat berries, hard red wheat flour, Honey Straws, butter, golden potatoes, duck eggs, hen eggs, rhubarb, broccoli, green beans, peaches, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, braising mix, pears and sweet corn.
Cranberry beans, broccoli, apples, fingerling potatoes, zucchini, beets, heirloom tomatoes, braising mix and Asian cucumber.
Sweet corn, green cabbage, purple carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard, heirloom tomatoes, red romaine lettuce and blackberries.
This Produce Really is “That Good!”
Last weekend, after a week of wonderful weather we received our first tomatoes of the season! Of course there were a lot of other wonderful fruits and vegetables:
- Yellow Spring onions
- Yellow Cauliflower
- Green beans
- Big Beef Tomatoes
- Angelina Plums
- Yellow Nectarines
- Lettuce mix
- Braising mix
The tomatoes were so good that I made an “insalata Caprese.” I purchased the avocado from “Central Market” which is a great grocery store here in the Seattle Area!
Now this looks like a real “summer” array of produce:
- Sweet Corn
- Gold Potatoes
- Magda Squash
- Green Beans
- Heirloom Tomato (big)
- Braising Mix
Cooking the perfect ears of corn:
OK, last week a friend forwarded me a Youtube video of this fellow cooking the “perfect corn-on-the-cob” in the husk! I was a little sceptical so I bought a few ears from the grocery store and tried out his technique (he microwaves it!!!). It works!!!!!!!
Here are more pictures from today’s organic food box: